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The Notebook of Theophrastus
The notebook of Theophrastus is thought to have been written at the time this student of Aristotle was at the Lyceum, sometime between 328-324 BC. Its existence is largely unknown in the western world, and it mostly contains notes for what would eventually become 'De Causis Plantarum'. A few curious entries exist, not the least of which is the section relating to the now fabled Rainbow Orchid, supposedly of northern India [or what is now Pakistan - ed].

An extract from the notebook:

"ek tou Alexandrou ephaineto polla kai nea phyteumata, en hois neos orchis thaumastos, hos de ou monochrous estin alla mala polychrous, hoi ta chromata dokei metastenai hosper iris, hoste onomazo auton ton Iriode Orchin"

"From Alexander came many new plants including a wonderful new orchid. It is not a single colour but has many that seem to shift like a rainbow, so I name it the Rainbow Orchid"

Listen to Latin/Ancient Greek scholar Quintus reading the extract aloud.

How the notebook came to be found amongst the secret archives of the Vatican is unknown, but it is likely it was collected by the knowledge-seeking Pope Nicholas V. At some point it was stolen away from the deeper levels of that famed library, and has somehow ended up in the private collection of Sir Alfred Catesby-Grey.

Read more about Theophrastus...

Julius Chancer, The Rainbow Orchid, story, artwork, characters and website © 1997 and 2014 Garen Ewing & inkytales